This just isn’t a situation that we can work or think or argue our way out of, even if many of us on Twitter can’t help but try. So what can we do? Read, for one, and perhaps, I thought, we can also change how we relate to time. Slow it down. Find joy and creativity in the lull.
That’s what Lightman argues for in his short book, which combines personal anecdotes with research on the way our wired world alters the way humans think, and guidance on how to resist the addiction of what he calls “the grid.”
None of it’s entirely new; the book came out a few years ago, and the downside of constant digital connection has now become more accepted. Even Apple has added tools to the iPhone that aim to help us see, manage and decrease the amount of time we spend on the small screen that guides so much of existence.
For some critics, Lightman’s book is too vague. A review in The New York Times by a business school professor noted that the author “fails to adequately distinguish between very different forms of wasting time,” from playing Minecraft to watching a river flow.
But to some degree, that’s the point. Lightman — whose amazing book of short stories, “Einstein’s Dreams,” imagines all kinds of different ways for time to work — doesn’t dictate how to waste time because it’s up to us to figure that out. Gustav Mahler took three- or four-hour walks after lunch and jotted down ideas along the way. Vladimir Nabokov chased butterflies. Gertrude Stein wandered the countryside, staring at cows.